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Live updates: Coronavirus sparks new travel disruption; markets stabilize after earlier rout


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SOURCE: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/coronavirus-china-live-updates/2020/02/25/f4045570-5758-11ea-9000-f3cffee23036_story.html
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Health officials in the United States warned Tuesday that the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country appears inevitable, marking a significant change in tone as global travel disruptions continued to worsen, South Korea neared 1,000 cases, Italy saw a 45 percent one-day increase in cases, and Iran reported at least 15 deaths.China and South Korea announced new cases of the coronavirus, raising concerns in both nations about how long it could take for normal life to return. Japan says 691 people on the ship tested positive for the virus, although that figure does not include more than 20 people found to have the virus after returning to their home countries.Mapping the spread of the coronavirus | U.S. markets plummet amid coronavirus fears | What we know about the virusNayib Bukele, the president of El Salvador, announced on Tuesday that he’d directed his mirgration and immigration department to restrict entry of people traveling from South Korea and Italy to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the country.In his announcement, Bukele said citizens and diplomats traveling from these countries will be required to spend 30 days in quarantine.Olympics officials are warily watching the spread of the coronavirus as they begin to consider the potential implications for the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.Moving the Games to another city is unlikely, as is postponing them for a year and then holding them in Tokyo, an official told the Associated Press. Now, the suspension is slated to last until at least April 10.“Air Canada will continue to monitor this evolving situation closely in consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, Transport Canada and Global Affairs and will adjust its schedule as appropriate,” the Montreal-based carrier said in a statement.The company said it would also be extending the suspension of its service from Toronto to Hong Kong until April 30 because of “reduced market demand.” Passengers can continue to fly to Hong Kong on the seven weekly flights to the city from Vancouver.Canada updated its travel advisory for northern Italy on Tuesday, advising Canadians to “exercise a high degree of caution” because of the spread of the novel coronavirus there.In an afternoon news conference, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and other top health officials backed off the CDC’s strong warning earlier Tuesday that the spread of the coronavirus in the United States was inevitable.The briefing was scheduled on short notice, and the markedly different tone came after the Dow fell more than 800 points in the wake of the CDC’s warning.Instead, Azar, a top CDC official who was not on the CDC call earlier Tuesday and other leading public health officials said the United States wanted to have a large-scale response prepared “just in case” there was person-to-person spread.“We believe the immediate risk here in the United States remains low, and we’re working hard to keep that risk low,” said Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director.Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during the news conference that the government was about a month and a half away from beginning early clinical safety tests for a coronavirus vaccine, adding that it would take a year to a year and a half before the vaccine was widely available.The Dow Jones industrial average plunged 900 points Tuesday after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned domestically of an inevitable coronavirus outbreak. Calls to local and state health departments about coronavirus are not unusual, but the link to Shen Yun was “something new this weekend,” Rupp told The Washington Post on Monday night.The County Health Department on Monday issued an announcement via Twitter reminding people that coronavirus risk is linked to recent travel to China, where the outbreak originated, and not to groups of people or particular ethnic groups.Epidemiologists with the Utah Department of Health have been averaging about 25 calls a day about the coronavirus, which department spokeswoman Charla Haley characterized as high.“We heard some rumors that were going around in regards to the Shen Yun troupe, and we just wanted to make sure people knew it was safe to go to the performance, that we weren’t worried about any of the dancers having coronavirus,” Haley told The Post.Shen Yun issued a statement confirming that the coronavirus outbreak was not affecting performances and reminding audiences that members of the New York-based group that comprises seven traveling dance companies are in fact banned from China.Read more here.Democratic lawmakers are raising alarm that the United States may be vastly unprepared for the possibility of an impending domestic coronavirus outbreak, citing concerns over supply shortages amid proposed cuts to health agencies responsible for overseeing medical emergencies.Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) tweeted Tuesday that a briefing on the virus should have been open to the public, writing, “they would be as appalled & astonished as I am by the inadequacy of preparedness & prevention.”Senate Minority Leader Charles E. What scares experts the most is that the virus is beginning to spread locally in countries outside China, but no one knows if that’s the case here, because they aren’t checking.Read more here.The world needs to learn from China’s response to the coronavirus, said the leader of a World Health Organization team sent to that country, while also criticizing countries for closing their borders to China.Epidemiologist Bruce Aylward devoted a sprawling hour-long news conference Tuesday to giving effusive, extravagant praise to China’s efforts — despite widespread global criticism of its leaders’ lack of transparency, initial attempts to censor reports of the outbreak and the authoritarian tools it has at times applied on its population to fight the outbreak.Aylward, chief of the WHO’s mission to China who spent last weekend in Wuhan, called China’s response “impressive,” “stunning,” “extraordinary,” “striking,” “disciplined” and “successful.”His team’s tour through China was the result of lengthy negotiations with Chinese authorities, who resisted for weeks allowing some international experts access into the country and especially the outbreak epicenter in Wuhan.Aylward’s team visited Beijing, Guangdong province and Sichuan province before finally spending a day and a half in Wuhan over the weekend.Aylward praised how leaders used big data, artificial intelligence and surveillance tools — developed by the government to monitor its own citizens and often criticized by human rights groups — to tackle the outbreak.He defended China’s repeated change without explanation in how it counts cases to the frustration of epidemiologists trying to study the virus.Aylward said the aggressive response China took — putting whole cities under lockdown, tracking the cases and contacts of tens of thousands of patients, mobilizing thousands of health workers and temporary hospitals — had huge effects in suppressing the spread of the disease, estimating that those measures prevented hundreds of thousands of people in China from being infected.“They’ve done this at scale, they know what they’re doing, and they’re really really good at it,” Aylward said. “In the second half, I’m confident it will be over.”Russia has not signaled whether it will push for a further reduction in oil supply at next week’s meeting, according to Bloomberg.Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on China and Iran on Tuesday to “tell the truth” about the spread of the novel coronavirus and applauded the work of journalists who are risking their own health by covering the outbreak.Speaking to reporters at the State Department, Pompeo said the United States is “deeply concerned” that Iran may have withheld details about the spread of covid-19.“All nations, including Iran, should tell the truth about the coronavirus and cooperate with international aid organizations,” he said.Pompeo also had critical words for Beijing, saying its impulse for censorship had led to the quashing of news reports and warnings by physicians in the days after the virus first started to spread.Although Pompeo is a frequent critic of news coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the State Department, he praised “the brave reporters who are covering the spread of coronavirus from Wuhan itself.”He said China’s recent expulsion of three Wall Street Journal reporters after the appearance of a critical editorial in their paper exposes the danger of a common Chinese government tactic: “Namely censorship. The disease, which originated in China last year, emerged in the Iranian city of Qom this month and has since spread to multiple areas of the country.At least 15 people have died, according to the Health Ministry.BERLIN — Prague Airport announced that passengers on flights from Italy would arrive in special gates going forward, as Italian authorities reported almost 300 confirmed coronavirus cases Tuesday.“Passengers from Italy will be concentrated in one place. The first two cases — a German tourist on an island near Tenerife and a British man in Mallorca — have both been discharged from the hospital after periods in quarantine.Spain was the latest European country struggling to respond to the threat of a virus whose potential arrival was faster than health authorities initially expected.According to Spain’s El Pais newspaper, Tuesday was slated to be the first meeting of the country’s newly created Interministerial Committee on the Coronavirus, overseen by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.ISTANBUL — Fifteen people have died in Iran from the coronavirus and at least 95 are confirmed infected, a Health Ministry spokesman said Tuesday, as authorities extended a ban on public gatherings to include conferences and weddings amid the widening outbreak.Iran’s Assembly of Experts, an 88-member body that meets twice a year, said Tuesday it was postponing its meeting scheduled for next month due to coronavirus fears.The Health Ministry spokesman, Kianush Jahanpur, said authorities were enacting a ban on conferences, company training sessions, sports events and weddings and ordering the closure of cinemas and theaters until the Persian New Year next month. It said they will remain in Bahrain while being treated.TOKYO — Japan’s soccer league on Tuesday postponed three rounds of matches scheduled through March 15, to slow the spread of the coronavirus.The J-League said 94 league games would be rearranged, in response to government advice that the next two weeks were critical in combating the spread of the virus, Kyodo News reported.Japan’s government has not banned all mass gatherings, but it urged organizers on Tuesday to consider whether such events are necessary in the coming weeks.The J-League season began last weekend with matches in the top two divisions, while the matches in the third tier were due to begin on March 7.Shigeru Omi, a medical expert and senior government adviser, said on Monday it was too early to tell whether Japan would still be able to stage the Olympics in Tokyo this summer.Separately, the Kyodo News agency reported that the Yomiuri Giants, the Tokyo baseball team, will play two games in a closed stadium.LONDON — British health officials on Tuesday changed their advice for travelers returning to Britain from northern Italy, urging them to self-isolate if they had flu-like symptoms.The new advice comes as Italy struggles to contain the biggest flare-up of coronavirus in Europe, with cases rising from three to more than 200 in a few days.Speaking to “BBC Breakfast,” British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that anybody returning from northern Italy — areas north of Pisa — should self-isolate “if they have flu-like symptoms.” He added that anybody who has traveled to areas around the country that the Italian government has quarantined should self-isolate “whether or not they have symptoms.”In Britain, 13 people have been infected with the virus, including four Britons who caught it while onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Several of the other cases are thought to be connected to a traveling businessman.Hancock said there were no changes to the official advice on traveling to Italy.Asked why Britain shouldn’t stop people entering the country from Italy, Hancock said that barring flights was not an effective solution.“Indeed, if you look at Italy, they stopped all flights from China and they’re now the worst-affected country in Europe, which kind of demonstrates that purely stopping the flights doesn’t work.”The Cheshire Live news site reported that a local school in Cheshire, England, was closing for a week amid concerns over students showing flu-like symptoms following a school ski trip last week to Bormio in the Lombardy region of Italy.On the Cransley School’s Facebook page, Richard Pollock, the principal, said he made the decision to close the school “to completely minimise possible spread of infection.” Over the next week, he said, workers will “conduct a deep clean” of the school and “monitor the results of tests amongst those pupils who are currently showing flu-like symptoms.”Parts of China that are viewed as “low risk” during the coronavirus outbreak should resume normal activity, an official told a news briefing Tuesday, as the country’s Communist leaders fret over the epidemic’s economic costs.Ou Xiaoli, an official with China’s state planning agency, told reporters that based on the severity of the outbreak, areas outside Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, and Beijing should be divided into three categories by county level: low-risk, medium-risk and high-risk areas.Regions deemed low-risk should lift restrictions on road access and help businesses return to normal levels, Ou said, while high-risk regions should continue to focus on controlling the outbreak.“People who live in these places may feel their daily travel is restricted,” the official added of the high-risk areas.Ou did not name which areas would be considered high-risk, medium-risk or low-risk. In recent days, a number of provinces have lowered their health emergency levels, from level one, the highest, to level two, a sign that they are trying to resume normal economic activity as businesses reopen and workers emerge from quarantines.For decades, the ability to deliver continued economic growth and a rise in living standards — in return for strict limits on political freedoms — has underpinned the Communist Party’s hold on power in China.TOKYO — Bracing for a surge in coronavirus cases, Japan announced a new policy on Tuesday designed to focus medical care on the most serious cases, while urging people with mild symptoms to treat themselves at home.It is radically different approach from that adopted by China, which has relied on locking down entire cities and keeping tens of millions of people virtual prisoners in their own homes, but it’s one that wins support from many medical experts.The basic premise is that the spread of the virus can’t be stopped, so efforts need to focus on slowing the pace of transmission and reducing mortality rates.Japan has confirmed at least 160 cases of coronavirus aside from more than 700 people who caught covid-19 on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship. The government didn’t issue a blanket ban on large-scale events, but asked organizers to consider whether such events were necessary.Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said now is a crucial time to control the outbreak, and he appealed for public cooperation.SEOUL — South Korea reported 84 additional cases of the coronavirus late Tuesday, bringing to 144 the number of new infections confirmed for the day, as the country’s leader sought to reassure citizens about health officials’ capacity to contain the epidemic.Some 543 out of South Korea’s 977 confirmed cases of the virus are in the southeastern city of Daegu, according to Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The country’s death toll from the virus also rose to 10.President Moon Jae-in visited Daegu, which officials have declared a “special care zone” along with surrounding North Gyeongsang province.“We can sufficiently overcome and definitely triumph over the covid-19,” Moon said, referring to the disease by its official name.“The government has mobilized a nationwide support system joined by the military, the police and private medical personnel,” Moon told a meeting with Daegu officials.South Korean officials said Tuesday they would test all 200,000 members of Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony, a controversial church in Deagu at the center of the outbreak.The 2.5 million residents of South Korea’s fourth-largest city have been advised to stay indoors, as the number of cases in the city rose from half a dozen to hundreds over the past week.After the meeting, Moon visited Daegu Medical Center, where 115 coronavirus patients are hospitalized.The center’s president, Yoo Wan-sik, told Moon that the hospital is “absolutely understaffed,” saying some medical workers did not have time to go home for rest.Moon voiced concerns about the physical burden on doctors and promised support.HONG KONG — Schools in Hong Kong, shut down for weeks to prevent coronavirus transmission, will not reopen before April 20, the city’s education minister said Tuesday.The closures affect kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, while universities are expected to follow suit.Students in Hong Kong have been out of school since the Lunar New Year holiday in January. At least 50 people are known to be infected, the Iranian authorities have said, but the death toll suggests the true number is higher.The United Arab Emirates was the first Middle Eastern country to detect the virus in late January, and has since confirmed 13 cases, linked mostly to travel to Iran but also China.Dubai is one of the world’s busiest international airports and a hub for passengers from Iran to other parts of the region.A Chinese woman who tested negative for the coronavirus eight times has been found to have the virus, according to a local government announcement.The 56-year-old woman had been working in a hotel in Chongqing where she came into contact with an infected staff member, according to officials in Anyue county in Sichuan province.The woman was placed under medical observation on Feb. 2, local news site Sichuan Observer reported on Tuesday, and she was subsequently tested for coronavirus eight times between Feb. 7 and Feb. 23.A hospital test on Feb. 24 confirmed that she had the novel coronavirus, Anyue county officials said Tuesday. In a second briefing, Hong said he did not mean a “Wuhan-style lockdown” involving restrictions on all travel in and out of the city.President Moon Jae-in also said the expression did not mean a regional lockdown of the Daegu area but a maximal obstruction of the viral spread, according to his spokesman Kang Min-seok.The approach of officials in South Korea, a democracy, differs from that of authoritarian China and appears to reflect concern over the potential political effects of placing a major metropolis under lockdown.In response to the mention of “lockdown,” Daegu Mayor Kwon Young-jin said that “the political establishment should not rashly exploit that matter.”More than half of South Korea’s 893 coronavirus cases are in Daegu, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.South Korea’s government has designated Daegu city and North Gyeongsang as “special care zones” where support will be concentrated.As debate continues about the length of the incubation period in cases of the novel coronavirus, a Chinese official suggested Monday evening that the country needs at least 28 days without new cases to show the virus is not spreading.Zhang Ying, deputy director of Tianjin’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, was asked during a news program on state broadcaster CCTV when citizens could feel safe that the outbreak was contained.“Speaking in terms of epidemiology, we have to keep observing for at least two longest incubation periods of time since the last infection cleared, and in the case of coronavirus, it is 28 days in total,” Zhang said, referring to the 14-day quarantines in place.“When no more new infections have been reported after 28 days, we can feel 100 percent at ease,” Zhang continued.The remarks drew thousands of comments on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service, where many wondered how long they would have to wait before normal life resumed. More than 200 people over 80 were on board the cruise ship, and the rising death toll will reinforce criticism about keeping vulnerable people confined on board the vessel, where it was difficult to protect them from infection and provide prompt medical care.Japan says 691 people on board the Diamond Princess tested positive for the virus, although that number does not include more than 20 people who were also found to have the virus on their return to the United States, Australia and Hong Kong, and one Japanese passenger who fell ill after returning home.Separately Japan has recorded 160 cases of the new coronavirus as of the start of Tuesday, according to a tally by NHK, including 14 Japanese citizens who were evacuated on charter flights from the Chinese city of Wuhan.HONG KONG — The Chinese government announced Tuesday that there had been 508 new confirmed cases by the end of the previous day, along with 74 deaths, bringing the total number of accumulated infections to 77,658 with 2,663 deaths.As in line with a recent trend, the vast majority of the impact was in the locked-down province of Hubei.

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